For Premier League soccer players, there is no greater honor than being included in the PFA Team of the Year. This award is voted for by their fellow professionals and thus holds special importance for those who ply their trade in England’s top tier.
With votes usually cast in the month of March, we have taken a look at the 11 players who could be included in the latest edition of the Premier League Team of the Year.
Arsenal had to choose between Bernd Leno and Emiliano Martinez last summer. They opted for the former to be their No.1 and sold the latter to Aston Villa.
Leno is an excellent goalkeeper, so Arsenal will not be regretting their decision. Having said that, Martinez has been outstanding this season. Only Ederson of Manchester City has kept more clean sheets than the Argentine at the time of writing, while no one in the division has a better save percentage.
Joao Cancelo plays at right-back for Manchester City, but he is far from a conventional practitioner of the role. The Portugal international would be a playmaker in many other sides, such is his technical prowess and creativity.
Cancelo’s displays will surely earn him a place in the Premier League Team of the Year. He may have only scored one goal and provided two assists this season, but the 26-year-old has been a vital part of City’s attacking play throughout.
John Stones did not seem to have much of a future at Manchester City last season, and he was linked with a move away from the Etihad Stadium before the current campaign.
The center-back deserves great credit for turning his City career around in recent months. He is still an excellent ball-player from deep, but Stones has cut out the mistakes and sharpened his focus. As such, he looks set to be voted into the PFA Team of the Year.
Part of the reason for Stones’ improvement is the identity of his center-back partner. Ruben Dias has been superb since arriving at Manchester City from Benfica, and he has been the biggest reason for Pep Guardiola’s side’s defensive solidity this term.
Dias is very much a modern defender in that he is comfortable with the ball at his feet. Crucially, he is also an intelligent reader of the game and a strong tackler. The Portuguese is a shoe-in for the Premier League Team of the Year.
Manchester United are the favorites to finish second in the Premier League this season, and Luke Shaw has been his team’s second-best performer. The left-back has gone through plenty of highs and lows during his time at Old Trafford, but he is now emerging as one of the strongest full-backs in the division.
Shaw has improved his defensive game, but he remains at his most effective when he is surging down the flank. A place in the PFA Team of the Year would be well deserved.
Jack Grealish could have left Aston Villa last summer, but he opted to stay loyal to his boyhood club. Dean Smith’s side are pushing for Europe, and their captain will be crucial in determining the outcome of that pursuit in the coming months.
Now playing from the left instead of in the center of the pitch, the England international has scored six goals and provided 10 assists this term. No player in the Premier League is more important to his team than Grealish.
Prior to this campaign, Ilkay Gundogan’s best scoring season with Manchester City was in 2018/19, when he notched six goals. His tally for the current campaign already stands at 11, more than half of which (six) came in a five-game run in January and February.
Gundogan has taken on more attacking responsibility this season, and his goals have helped put Pep Guardiola’s side in a commanding position in the Premier League title race. The German looks set to be rewarded with a place in the PFA Team of the Year.
Without Bruno Fernandes, Manchester United would probably be outside the top four of the Premier League. The attacking midfielder has been a revelation since he arrived at Old Trafford in January 2020, and he is in the running to win the PFA Player of the Year award.
Fernandes has scored 16 goals this season, with only one player possessing a better tally. He has also provided 10 assists, and is guaranteed a spot in the Premier League Team of the Year.
Liverpool’s title defense has not gone to plan, and Jurgen Klopp’s side also look set to miss out on the top four. Mohamed Salah has held up his end of the bargain, though, and with 17 goals he is leading the race to win the Golden Boot.
Like many of his team-mates, Salah’s form has dipped in recent weeks. However, he still has time to get back to his best, and a few more goals would probably see him into the PFA Team of the Year.
Harry Kane has always been a reliable goalscorer, but he has become a more well-rounded center-forward this season. As well as scoring 16 goals – only Mohamed Salah has more to his name – Kane has provided a Premier League-high 13 assists.
The Tottenham talisman has often dropped deep this season, and it is from those withdrawn positions that he has been able to demonstrate his invention. It would be a huge shock if Kane was not in the Premier League Team of the Year.
Before this season, Dominic Calvert-Lewin was more likely to be praised for his work outside the penalty area than within it. But while the Everton frontman is still adept at linking the play and holding the ball up, he has become much more clinical within the 18-yard box.
Calvert-Lewin has scored 13 goals at the time of writing. Even if Everton fail to finish in the top four, their striker could be included in the PFA Team of the Year.
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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